Sunday, July 31, 2011

Somber mood. Excellent ride.

Erinna, Sophiedog, and I just got in from an excellent ride. The somber part is hard to talk about, a buddy died from injuries sustained in Pisgah yesterday but there we were riding in Pisgah, enjoying this beautiful day that was upon us. I think he would have asked us to do just that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Farlow @ Night.

Mike R. and I got out last night for, to the best of my recollection, a first for me: Farlow Gap at night. To make it even better we took the long way up (5003/140A). We met at Mr. Pete's at 6:30pm but were not on the bikes until minutes before 9:00. Why? Well as we were just about ready to hit the trail from Daniel Ridge parking lot I came to the sinking realization that my front wheel was in my Jeep.... at Mr. Pete's. Dammit. Well fortunately for me Mike does not seem to have buttons that can be pushed. No matter what the situation may hold Mike does not get flustered. Cool.... So when we got back to the Jeep and I said 'F*ck it, I say we head back out there' I was hardly surprised when he said 'Hell yeah, that'll make a better story anyway'

So at 8:55 we were on the bikes and headed to Gloucester Gap. Mike led out for the climb and I was having a good warm-up. I just about held his wheel all the way to the gap. We were there in great time, too. We took a quick breather but were headed up 5003 after just a couple minutes of a break. There's a thread going on mtbr right now that I wanted to participate in so our first destination was the intersection of 5003/140A. Points are awarded for the number of bikes, helmets, people, fun/odd photo features, and difficulty (remote location, night ride, etc.). The last folks left the game to be picked up there so off we went.
5003 also went by very quickly. I had taken the lead at some point and was feeling good. Mike wasn't rubbing my rear wheel either so the pace was set. With lights blazing, cutting through the cool humid air, it was like I was dancing with my bike. Every moment with full attention to detail but confident, cautious, and strong. I could stand and hammer, sit and spin, whatever the terrain demanded. Of course, when you're feeling like that it only takes a flash until you're at the next turn. We took the photos for the game and ate and talked and generally took our time getting out of there before heading up the much more tech, much more steep section that followed, 140A. Oh, I almost forgot, I saw a BOBCAT on 5003. It ran about 50 feet ahead of me for what seemed like 10 seconds.
140A can destroy momentum and exuberance. I knew that going into it. I immediately switched to granny gear and started to climb. Well, that only lasted for a few moments before I was back in the middle with Mike in chase. We attacked every steep climb and honestly, almost cleaned the entire way to Farlow. We were both on fire and unwilling to submiss. What a great feeling to be able to stay on the bike on a trail that has had me off the bike and whimpering in the past. I started to lose Mike somewhere around Kissee Creek but knowing Farlow was just ahead I hung my head low and continued to hammer. When Mike arrived at the gap 2 minutes after me it was time for a longish break.
Ahead was the reason to climb the 9 miles to that point: Farlow Gap. Farlow is easily the most technical bike legal descent in Pisgah. The rock garden at the top is the stuff of legends and along the way there are sections so steep and ever changing that no one could say I can clean Farlow every time. This time Mike and I got through the rock garden with one dab each, flew through the mica covered camp, and absolutely cleaned the super steep rooty section before the waterfall.
Following Mike was a trip. He is so fast and smooth it was like he could do no wrong. That changed once we were in the less steep/tech stuff. First we had a perfect 10 point dismount off the log bridge but next was the switchback steps of dooooom. He didn't realize exactly where we were, I did. He went full speed ahead around the turn and into the steps and I was following. Maybe he knew something I didn't I thought. Well.... no. The tone in his voice went from 'Oh Shit' to 'I'M GOING TO DIE' in an instant and he catapulted off the side. Since he did not get hurt all I can really say was it was a spectacular sight.

more later (I hope)

View 2011-07-26 20:55 in a larger map

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Then hammer some more!!!

Last night I got out on a fast paced (for me) ride. BRP->276->1206->5000 in 3:01, starting at 8PM.
When I left I told Erinna that my plan was to take it easy and to be at Mt. Pisgah for some sunset photos. Well, I got onto the parkway and took a few photos at every overlook along the way. A perfect way to warm up in my opinion.

Well, the photo project wrapped up as I approached rt151 because I had climbed directly into the clouds, there were no more views to be had. I was feeling pretty good at that point also so I changed the intent of the ride and picked up the pace.

Now would be a good time to mention that I was about as dehydrated as one could be while still functioning, see, last week I had a bout of food poisoning and a sinus infection... well, let's just say I hadn't fully recovered.

Every single mile clicked by with incredible slowness and every time I saw a mile marker I'm sure I let out an audible 'uuuugh' as ONLY one more mile had passed. I had told Erinna that if I wasn't feeling it I would turn around at Mt. Pisgah and just do an out and back. Well, I was feeling good enough that I thought, maybe I'll turn around at 276. My stomach was churning and my heart rate felt like it was at a steady 200 but my legs felt fine.

My head was still in the game so without the slightest pause I hammered through the stop sign and started the descent into Pisgah proper. With lights now full on I didn't take a moment of rest and the droid says I got going 43.5mph along the way. The turn onto 1206 was next and again without a break at a usual stop I hammered onto the gravel. I knew it was 5 miles of relatively flat gravel road to the next intersection and the plan was to stop there. With my head down, eyes forward, legs spinning FAST, heart rate still WAY too high, and a little drool hanging from my lips I had the sudden urge to well, stop, and without a moment of hesitation I had the remains of a BLT sandwich on my foot. That's right, hammer til ya puke! I could hear Phil Ligget commentating: 'Poor Chap, Looks like he's having a rough go of it now, doesn't he?' and with a laugh and a drink of water I resumed the hammer. I was at my furthest point from the car, I had to just keep going. I was concerned. I was mad. I was having a great time.
I kept the pace as high as I could and the landmarks clicked by with ease. Pilot Rock, Slate Rock, Pilot Cove, Bradley Creek, and even the climb to Yellow Gap. I took my only rest of the evening there then after less than 5 minutes I was on my way to NMRC. Along the way every camp was full and the smell of campfires permeated the woods. It had become a beautiful night with temps in the mid 60's, high humidity, and a huge rising moon.

I turned onto 5000 and my final climb was upon me. At the top of the pavement I got a big cheer from some campers. I was again reminded of 'Le Tour'. Fist pumping fans at the top of the climb yelling encouragements. I don't know if they were cyclists or not but they sure did know how to cheer one on. I was rejuvenated with a big smile by the ridiculousness of it all. The climb to Trace parking took longer than expected but the rest of the climb went by in a flash. The first gate, Spencer, the third gate..... and back to the car. I quickly took out the droid for the first time to stop the timer and was happy with what I saw: 3:01 total time out which is right in line with my best time for this ride. Other stats: 32.5 miles, 4068' elevation gain, 43.5mph max speed, 11.9mph average moving speed. Not bad.

View 2011-07-16 19:50 in a larger map

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trace Ridge before 7AM

I got out for what turned into a fast paced ride this morning starting at 6:45. I started at Bent Creek Gap->Blue Ridge Parkway->Trace Ridge->5000 back to Bent Creek Gap. Total time out was 1:07 but the amazing part is the 49 minute moving time. I stopped and took a bunch of photos at the overlook, walked down to the Trace Ridge sign, ran up to the top of the decent, stopped for a breather after the run, took it relatively easy on the descent (Trace is in BAD shape right now), and HAMMERED up 5000.
A couple of other notes: 1. I bottomed out my P.O.S. fork on one of the new water runoff ruts and nearly went over the bars. 2. 'Normal' handlebars make my hands go numb. 3. Singlespeeding up 5000 is faster than riding gears. 4. I sure am glad I got out early today because now, at 9:15 am, it is already HOT.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Allroad on a Tuesday

Mike B. and I got out for a swift paced ride today. We kept it on the roads but by no means stayed on pavement. Our route for the day: From Sandy Bottom picnic area->N.C. Arboretum->? gravel->North Boundary (479M)->Bent Creek Gap Rd(479)->Blue Ridge Parkway->back to Sandy Bottom.

View 2011-07-05 11:05 in a larger map

Monday, July 4, 2011

Double Up!

Last evening I decided I wasn't quite done with riding for the day and got out on rarest of rare rides, a SECOND ride in one day. I started by heading down to the new greenway then rt.191. I must have spaced out and forgotten just how far it is to the parkway because when I arrived there I was not looking forward to the return trip. I made the decision then to just head North on the parkway then turn at Biltmore Forest then head on home. I caught glimpses of the city firework display on the return trip and was home just after I really broke a sweat. I kept the pace as high as possible for the entire ride.... well, except for the couple times I stopped for photos. 20.7 miles, 1631' elevation gain, 1:24 moving time, 14.7 mph average, 34.3 mph max.

View 2011-07-03 20:13 in a larger map

Sunday, July 3, 2011